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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed how President Biden’s policies have created the worst border crisis in our nation’s history. Thune noted that President Biden has never been to the border, and neither the growing humanitarian nor security concerns have moved him to address this crisis.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, the Biden border crisis continues.
“In February U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered 164,973 individuals attempting to cross our southern border illegally – a 63 percent increase from a year ago and the highest February number in more than 20 years.
“Mr. President, border encounters in February over the past decade or so have generally been low – with numbers far under 100,000.
“But not since President Biden was inaugurated.
“Almost from the day the president took office, our nation has been experiencing an unprecedented border surge.
“In fiscal year 2021, the Border Patrol encountered more than 1.7 million individuals attempting to cross our southern border – the highest number ever recorded.
“We’ve had 12 straight months of border encounters in excess of 150,000.
“And these numbers only reflect individuals the Border Patrol has succeeded in apprehending.
“There’s no question that many other illegal immigrants have crossed the border in the past year without being apprehended, and have disappeared into the United States.
“The situation at our southern border is out of control.
“It is a security crisis.
“It is a humanitarian crisis.
“And it is an enforcement crisis.
“Our Border Patrol officers have done heroic work this past year, but they are stretched incredibly thin, and are having to spend too much time caring for migrants and not enough time patrolling the border.
“This sharply increases the risk that dangerous individuals – from terrorists to drug smugglers to human traffickers – will slip across our southern border and into the country unnoticed.
“And apart from the serious security concerns that go along with not knowing who is entering our country, allowing this border crisis to continue also presents serious humanitarian concerns.
“There is nothing compassionate about encouraging individuals to undertake the dangerous journey to our southern border, to run the risk of exploitation and disease and exposure.
“Unfortunately, Mr. President, neither humanitarian nor security concerns have moved President Biden to meaningfully address this border crisis.
“Every month, we see massive numbers of individuals attempting to cross our southern border, and every month, the White House just doesn’t seem to care.
“The president travels regularly – including regular weekends away from the White House – but he can’t seem to bring himself to visit the border and see the situation firsthand.
“It’s a disturbing abdication of responsibility from the man charged with defending our nation’s security.
“And let’s remember, the president isn’t just ignoring this border crisis.
“He is partly – if not largely – responsible for it.
“Immediately upon taking office, the president took steps that weakened our nation’s border security.
“On his very first day in office, President Biden rescinded the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border.
“He halted construction of the border wall.
“And he revoked a Trump administration order that called for the government to faithfully execute our immigration laws.
“All on his first day.
“And the president’s Department of Homeland Security also issued guidelines that same day pausing deportations except under certain conditions.
“The effect of all this was to declare to the world that the United States’ borders were effectively open.
“And Border Patrol numbers ticked up accordingly.
“And the president’s anti-border-security efforts didn’t end there.
“The president has significantly limited the ability of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection to enforce immigration laws.
“Deportations dropped precipitously during fiscal year 2021, as did arrests in the interior of the country.
“And earlier this week, the administration rescinded a 2019 rule expanding expedited removal for individuals here illegally.
“The administration is also reportedly expected to end its Title 42 COVID-19 restrictions, which have provided for the immediate deportation of those who have crossed the border illegally.
“The result is almost guaranteed to be an even larger surge at our southern border – taking the situation from disaster to utter catastrophe.
“One media outlet reports that, quote, “Department of Homeland Security intelligence estimates that perhaps 25,000 migrants already are waiting in Mexican shelters just south of the border for Title 42 to end.”
“And there’s no sign that the administration has any substantive plan for how to deal with the resulting surge – or how to deal with the enhanced criminal activity, from drug smuggling to human trafficking, that would likely accompany this influx.
“Mr. President, I get that President Biden would prefer to pretend that the crisis at our border does not exist.
“But it does exist.
“And as president, he has the responsibility to address it.
“He needs to get serious about fulfilling that duty, for the sake of our nation’s security – and for the sake of all those who are being encouraged by his lax immigration policies to undertake the dangerous journey to our southern border.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”